NCGA Golf

Summer 2018

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Walker Cup player. And how could she ever forget all the glorious food? Cornett remem- bers the buffets Lengfeld hosted at her "cottage" off the 14th fairway of Pebble Beach. "Nobody starved at Helen's tour- naments," Cornett said. The championship trophy came from among the antiques collection in Lengfeld's Hillsborough mansion. Inkster has one in her home. "Having won one of them makes it very special," said Inkster, winner of 44 professional tournaments, including seven majors. (The PWGA an- nually awards the Helen Lengfeld Trophy to a member for outstanding service.) The trophies, the food for the buffets, which featured teenagers' delights from bologna sandwiches to shrimp salad, were "schlepped" down from Helen's house in her limousine-size Cadillac, recalls Meyer. Lengfeld always drove. The young girls who lined up for the buffets had no idea how wealthy their hostess was. All they knew was that she organized volunteers, arranged free housing for tournament nights, and had a broad smile as she handed out the "lucky" pennies. Baugh, who turned pro in 1973 at the age of 17, won two Junior Girls' champi- onships at Quail Lodge. "At the time, with a single mother, it was huge to be able to stay in someone's home," Baugh said. "It was the difference between staying home and not playing and being able to play those courses and against those players." Alcott, winner of 33 pro tournaments, remembers how her mother was promoted to spooning out shrimp salad at the lunch- eon. Lengfeld always had a regimen for her volunteers and the players. "Her vision was always doing the right thing," Alcott said. Off the golf course, there were recre- ational opportunities for the young women. Cornett laughs as she tells the story of Lopez going to see "Jaws," the shark-thriller movie, in Monterey. "We sat in the front row and got the full force of those jaws," Cornett said. "Nancy didn't want us to go back to Pebble Beach along the coast. She was so scared." Lopez, who grew up in New Mexico, confirmed the tale, noting that, to this day, she doesn't like swimming in dark water. "I've got to see the bottom before I jump in," she said. "That movie gave me the Heebie-jeebies. I was scared to death." Lopez said she loved Lengfeld's hats. Meyer confirmed that near the front door of her grandmother's Hillsborough resi- dence, a walk-in closet had shelves from floor to ceiling full of hats. Always elegant in skirt, scarf, blazer and full-brimmed hat—preferably pink, her favorite color— Lengfeld required a sense of elegance and regimen from her tournament volunteers. Lengfeld was introduced to golf and philanthropy as a teenager. She played at the Beresford Golf Club in Burlingame, and at 14 won the women's championship there. In 1926 Helen won the San Fran- cisco Women's Championship at Lincoln Park Golf Course, and went on to win WGANC's Match Play Cham- pionship in 1927 at Lakeside. Lengfeld's ventures beyond golf included organizing antique shows and sales to finance United Voluntary (now Veterans) Services activities, including "Swing Clubs," where pro golfers would teach veterans how to play, even writing a song "The Swing's the Thing" to accompany the program; publishing Pro Golfer magazine in the 1940's; and single-handedly creating "The Haven," a recreation center at the Veterans Center in Menlo Park. She met her husband, Army Lt. Louis Lengfeld, at the age of 19 when she was volunteering for the Red Cross. Louis, who made his fortune in construction, and Helen had three children. And she had so many others she treated like her own, fanning the flames of their interest in golf. In 1979, she launched the California Senior Women's Amateur Championship. For all her contributions, Golf Digest named Lengfeld one of the five most influential women in golf. She would have been delighted to see the U.S. Girls' Junior Championship contested at Poppy Hills and to know that the U.S. Women's Open will make its long-anticipated debut at Pebble Beach in 2023. "My grandmother wanted to make sure every little girl, no matter how little money they had, if they wanted to play, they could," said Meyer, noting that "to the chagrin of my grandmother, I didn't take up golf." And every one of those girls (and women) could count on receiving a "lucky" penny and a smile. Inkster laughed when she heard about Cornett's feeling about her penny: "I bet you Holly felt the same thing." Alex Hulanicki teaches journalism and English at Monterey Peninsula College. NCGA.ORG | SUMMER 2018 27 F rom left to right: World Golf Hall of Fame member Patty Sheehan, Helen Lengfeld, Pat Cornett, Sally Dodge and Sally Voss Krueger outside of Pebble Beach Golf Links entrance in December 1981 at the California State Amateur. Inset: Lengfeld wrote and composed the song "Fore! Ike is on the Tee," and donated the proceeds to charitable causes.

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